Mutual Validation of GNSS Height Measurements and High-precision Geometric-astronomical Leveling
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The method of geometric-astronomical leveling is presented as a suited technique for the validation of GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) heights. In geometric-astronomical leveling, the ellipsoidal height differences are obtained by combining conventional spirit leveling and astronomical leveling. Astronomical leveling with recently developed digital zenith camera systems is capable of providing the geometry of equipotential surfaces of the gravity field accurate to a few 0.1 mm per km. This is comparable to the accuracy of spirit leveling. Consequently, geometric-astronomical leveling yields accurate ellipsoidal height differences that may serve as an independent check on GNSS height measurements at local scales. A test was performed in a local geodetic network near Hanover. GPS observations were simultaneously carried out at five stations over a time span of 48 h and processed considering state-of-the-art techniques and sophisticated new approaches to reduce station-dependent errors. The comparison of GPS height differences with those from geometric-astronomical leveling shows a promising agreement of some millimeters. The experiment indicates the currently achievable accuracy level of GPS height measurements and demonstrates the practical applicability of the proposed approach for the validation of GNSS height measurements as well as the evaluation of GNSS height processing strategies.
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